There will be no Pro Bowl for Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber, who has represented the NFC four times in his 10-year NFL career.
Despite a top 3 defense, a 9-5 record and the NFC South title, no Tampa Bay player will be heading to the Pro Bowl next February. The news came as a shock to Barber – and likely some of his teammates – at 4:00 p.m. ET when the NFL released its official 2008 Pro Bowl list, and Barber sounded off about the snub on his radio show on WDAE 620 AM on the Buccaneers Radio Network.
“We’re the number one scoring defense in the NFL, and I think the number two passing defense and definitely number one in yards [allowed] the NFC and get nobody on the list,” Barber said. “That’s the way this thing works sometimes. There are probably many, many reasons why – not the least of which is that not a whole lot of people know about our football team. They will obviously once the playoffs start.
“We didn’t have a lot of viewership in all of our games this year. We had not national games. The one that we had this year [at San Francisco on Sunday] got bumped up to a 4:00 p.m. game. It’s probably been tough for a lot of our guys like Jermaine [Phillips] and Barrett [Ruud], who I really think should have made it this year. They didn’t get the type of exposure that you need. We all know that it’s a lobbying effort and a popularity contest with the Pro Bowl every year. You can even get guys talked into the Pro Bowl. It can define you in the long run, but to me, year-to-year, it does not always say who the best players are. I’ll definitely share that with our guys tomorrow when we all get into work. I’m sure there will be some guys who are upset, but it is what it is.”
Although Phillips, who is having a career year for Tampa Bay with a team-leading four interceptions, is one of the players he felt sorry for, Barber was elated with the news that Washington safety Sean Taylor was voted in as a starter posthumously after his death from a gunshot wound on November 26. Taylor had 42 tackles, nine passes defensed, a career-high five interceptions and a forced fumble in half a season in 2007 before getting injured. Taylor missed the Redskins vs. Bucs game at Tampa Bay as he was home in Miami and was shot in a home invasion later that evening on November 25.
“Sean Taylor getting voted in as a starter to the Pro Bowl, I thought that was a good sign,” Barber said. “He was having a heck of a year, obviously. It’s not just a tribute kind of thing. The guy was having a great year before he got hurt and before he got killed. I thought it was great on all of our parts – I think he was leading the fan voting anyways – but the coaches and players had to vote him in and it was pretty damn classy of the league.”
On his radio show, Barber was asked about the NFL possibly moving the destination of the Pro Bowl each year from Hawaii to the host city of the Super Bowl in that corresponding year. If the NFL decides to do this, the city of Tampa could be the first destination as it hosts the Super Bowl next year in 2009.
“Hawaii is a great destination,” Barber said. “For guys that live up north it’s even more so. For us, we’re leaving good weather for good weather. From the East Coast, it’s a hell of a trip. It’s nine hours and you have to stop over somewhere on the West Coast and [travel] the other half of it. I understand why the league wants to move it and [why it is] thinking of other options, but I can’t imagine where it would be. It would have to be somewhere on the East Coast.”
Barber also chimed in on the state of the NFC on his radio show as the playoffs loom.
“I don’t think there is anybody unbeatable in the NFC, to tell you the truth,” Barber said. “I that know Dallas and Green Bay have played well, but I think it’s important that we continue to keep playing hard here to finish out this season and continue to try to get on track through San Francisco and Carolina so we’re strong going into the playoffs so we know that we are playing on top of our game.”
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